2024 Polytechnic Showcase spotlight: Global Polytechnic Education Alliance

In 2017, six institutions with longstanding ties and a common focus on the polytechnic model of education formed the Global Partners European Alliance, renamed Global Polytechnic Education Alliance in 2022. The GPEA focuses on building comprehensive relationships and global collaborative opportunities related to academics, applied research, professional development and community outreach. The group will offer sessions at this year’s Polytechnic Showcase, with more than two dozen representatives joining us in Ottawa.

Polytechnics Canada caught up with one of the group’s leaders, Glendali Rodriguez, Provost and Vice Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, to learn more about their interest in connecting with Canadian counterparts.

Polytechnics Canada: What was the initial inspiration behind the establishment of the GPEA alliance? What drew the group together?

Glendali Rodriguez: GPEA members had longstanding bilateral ties when we decided to form a more structured organization in 2017. Our goal was to address distinctive, impactful polytechnic educational opportunities throughout Europe and North America through collaboration, building on an annual polytechnic summit initiated in 2009. Today, the GPEA is made up of the following member institutions:

PC: Since its inception, how have alliance members been engaging with each other? What have been the benefits?

GR: Outside of the annual summit, the GPEA’s activities vary across the network. Some activities, like the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) workshop hosted by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, include multiple members, others are one-on-one collaborations that are more specific. Members connect other members to non-member institutions that are of interest or institutions seeking a polytechnic designation. The spirit of collegiality and connection are the drivers.

PC: How does GPEA articulate the nature of polytechnic education? Does this differ from member to member or is there a shared understanding of this model of education?

GR: The GPEA is comprised of different types of polytechnic institutions. Some are colleges within a comprehensive university, others are regional comprehensive universities and others are polytechnic universities. This unique placement and personality help us approach challenges from varied perspectives and ultimately broaden viewpoints.

PC: What are GPEA’s objectives and goals as a network? Is there room to grow this alliance in the future?

GR: The GPEA came together to focus on the relationships and global strategic collaborative opportunities for polytechnic higher education. Each member brings unique strengths to the overall membership, creating an alliance focused on increasing effectiveness, professionalism and performance of our institutions. There is room and a desire to grow the alliance.

GPEA believes that leveraging the advantages of international collaboration can bring meaningful benefits to our students, our faculty, our staff, our universities and to our respective communities. The GPEA works towards providing potential solutions on a national and regional scale in relevant cross-cutting areas.

In compliance with each member’s governing policies, GPEA members pursue opportunities through mechanisms that include hosting annual conferences/symposiums, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects, student mobility programs, faculty mobility/visiting scholar programs and MSc and PhD student co-advising. We also collaborate on post-doc programs, joint degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and research collaborations.

If you are interested in learning more about GPEA member initiatives, make sure to attend the following concurrent sessions Wednesday, May 15 at the 2024 Polytechnic Showcase:

11:15amUtah Tech University: Workforce Development Initiatives in Health Science
1:30pmPurdue University – Polytechnic Institute: The Purdue Polytechnic
Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem
2:45pmUniversity of Wisconsin-Stout: Academic Innovations to Amplify Workforce Partnerships
4:15pmDarmstadt University of Applied Sciences: EUt+ Initiative: The Ultimate Exercise in Scaling

Read all sixteen concurrent session descriptions on the 2024 Polytechnic Showcase website.

About the Author

Glendali Rodriguez, Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Stout